The Future of Yellow Pages and Your Marketing Budget

As you consider how much money to invest in Yellow Pages, consider this: Consumers now use search engines over Yellow Pages. The details can be seen in this article detailing the study.


Yellow page directories already know this. Some are combating this truth by commissioning their own studies reflecting positively on the yellow page industry. Some are bundling their resources to try to increase their effectiveness, combining the printed directory with their websites (at an extra cost). I’ve seen some of these presentations and all make boastful claims of effectiveness. Many of them I find difficult to believe. They’ve given me no reason. In my 22 years of working with small businesses, not one time has a business ever credited their marketing success to yellow pages.

I’m not saying they haven’t been somewhat effective in the past, but their importance has always been overstated. Yellow pages effectiveness decreases each year, as their rates simultaneously increase. Stop the madness. There’s just something that can’t be ignored here: a trend. It is my opinion that each year yellow pages will become less effective in getting a return on investment. And when you compare cost vs. response, yellow pages should rarely even be considered in your marketing mix. But how do you replace the function of what yellow pages is supposed to provide?

Right now, that answer is Google. There are two primary, and one secondary, strategies to improve your presence in local Google Searches.

  1. First, claim your business listing on Google:
  2. Second, do some basic website search engine optimization. Make sure your website is optimized with local, geographic tags and content. For example, if your business is in Austin, Texas make sure there is “Austin, Texas” in your website content, your page title tags, and your website meta description.
  3. Third, consider using Google AdWords to do some local, pay per click advertising. You can control your budget, and place limits on your exposure to defined geographic territories. Local businesses are not yet comfortable using AdSense. This leaves the territory wide open for you on many local search terms.

So save some of that yellow pages budget and redirect it to another resource that will give you a greater return. Start with Google and your website, then put the extra change in the bank.

**UPDATE: The yellow pages industry is not ignoring the change in the marketplace and they are trying to adjust. But the industry is still trying to determine what that adjustment will be. Here is my recent artcile detailing those changes: Advertising Trends: Yellow Pages Getting into Everything

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